Why Do Dogs Dig Holes? And What Can You do About It?

Raise hands if you like finding dirt at your home. Of course, you do not. Digging is a natural behavior for dogs, but sometimes, it drives you crazy.

You are probably wondering why do dogs dig holes? Well, some dogs just can’t help it. Let them loose, and they will turn your backyard into a construction site with holes everywhere.

For most dog owners, digging is definitely one of the most frustrating behaviors and experience in dogs. Your garden might be the victim of your fun and loving dog.

But if you understand why do dogs dig holes, you can do something about it. Understand the reason, and you can manage your dog’s behavior.

With that in mind, let’s see whether digging is just a symptom of a greater problem.

Top Reasons for Digging

Genetics

You will be surprised, but genetics actually play quite a role in digging. Hunting dogs, for example, were bred to dig out quarry from their dens.

They were used for hunting foxes, rats, and similar animals that live underground. Therefore, you can expect some digging in hunting dog breeds, as well as terrier dog breeds.

These dog breeds enjoy digging and looking for prey. You will have to be persistent, patient, and consistent in your training to prevent their natural instinct.

Entertainment

Yes, some dogs dig just for the fun of it. You might find it silly, but it is a fun and enjoyable experience for dogs. Once your dog learns that the roots and soil can move, they play back.

Dogs that dig for fun, enjoy the experience once they are left alone outside. If your dog is outside for a long period of time, he will look for his entertainment.

No toys, playmates, or other fun activities means that your dog has to find a way to entertain himself. Remember, dogs need physical and mental stimulation. If you do not provide it, he will look for it elsewhere.

Digging for fun is one of the hardest to stop and prevent because the action is rewarding in terms of fun and happiness.

Stress relief

Stress relief is a similar reason for digging as entertainment. Your dogs are stressed when nothing is happening. They need to spend and burn their energy. Digging is particularly a good stress relief activity.

Stress relief is quite challenging in dogs with separation anxiety. If your dog is prone to separation anxiety, make sure to prevent that, and it will stop the digging. In this case, the digging aspect is just a symptom of the bigger problem.

Escaping

There are dogs that love to run and escape closed backyards and environments. If your dog cannot go over the fence, he will try going under the fence. And for some dogs, that works quite well.

They are successful in digging under the fence and escaping. A perfect solution is to find a fence that goes underground.

Try to figure out why your dog is trying to escape the backyard. In most cases, it is due to pure boredom and anxiety.

Denning

Dogs seek the shelter of dens. It is in their natural instinct. Domestic pets might do it less often, but they still do it. Wild canines still seek the shelter of dens.

During the hot months, dens are cooler. That is why northern breeds such as the Siberian Husky is a known digger. They look for a place where they feel secure and comfortable.

If you notice your dog is digging and then sleeping there, or digging on his bed or in the crate, it is just an instinctual behavior. It is related to digging dens outdoors.

Burying hidden treasure

Yes, dogs hide their “treasure”. That can apply to food, bones, and even toys. You can give a bone to your dog, but he might not feel like eating now.

So, what will he do? Save it for later. There is a saying that “some people are like dogs, they dig and hide the issue, but they know where to look for when they need it”.

The instinct is based on the hereditary behavior of wild dogs. Back then, their relatives would bury extra food so they could eat later.

How to stop digging?

Understanding why do dogs dig holes is just one part of the problem. You might understand the problem, but it is quite challenging to manage the behavior.

Remember, as we said multiple times before, it is a natural behavior and instinct. In some breeds, especially those bred for digging, it is even more challenging. In some cases, it is even unfair to ask the dog to stop doing it.

With that in mind, the best way to discourage digging behavior is to explore the reason for digging.

Here are some ideas on how to stop dog digging.

Digging for entertainment

The hardest to stop digging is the one for entertainment. Why? Because the activity is rewarding.

The only way to stop this type of behavior is to make sure your dog is happy at all times. Make sure to provide plenty of playtime, exercise, and walks.

Another way to stop the behavior is to create a special digging pit. There, your dog is allowed to dig. Just consider fencing the area that is off-limit.

Digging for escaping

We said that the simple way to stop this behavior is to put an underground fence.

Make sure to bury the fence line at least a foot deep, and then place large rocks at the bottom of the fence line. If your dog is prone to escaping, do not leave him alone outdoors.

Anxiety issues

Some dogs can develop anxiety problems. And there are many causes of anxiety in dogs. Stress, trauma, fear, or anything else you can think of.

We have to stress that anxiety can be a challenge for novice owners, and even for some more experienced ones. It is best that you work with a trainer to find the root of the anxiety, and deal with the issues.

Digging for denning

You can provide your dog with the comfort he is looking for. During the hot days, make sure your dog has a crate that is ventilated or use fabrics that keep him cool.

Do not leave your dog outside when it is hot, cold, or it is raining. It is only natural that these environmental conditions are not comfortable for your canine friend. Therefore, he will look for comfort in another shelter.

Digging for food

The best way to deal with this issue is to give your dog just enough amount of food.

Do not give him food he cannot finish right away. If your dog doesn’t finish his meal, take it away before he can stash it in the yard.

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